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E.J. Dionne writes that President Obama was wise to find a sensible compromise in the contraception debate, in his column, “Contraception And The Cost Of The Culture Wars:”

Politicized culture wars are debilitating because they almost always require partisans to denigrate the moral legitimacy of their opponents, and sometimes to deny their very humanity. It’s often not enough to defeat a foe. Satisfaction only comes from an adversary’s humiliation.

One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.

That is why the battle over whether religious institutions should be required to cover contraception under the new health care law was so painful — and why it was so hard to comprehend why President Obama, who has been a critic of culture wars for so long, did not try to defuse this explosive question from the beginning.

It’s also why he was right, finally, to reach a compromise that respected the legitimate concerns of each side. He should have done this at the outset, but far better late than never.

That so many liberal Catholics supported the church’s core claim surprised both Catholic conservatives and more secular liberals. There are lessons here, and that includes lessons for Obama.

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